How Much Would You Endure to Flee Persecution?

Since April 2016, more than two thousand Haitians have arrived in Tijuana to cross into the United States. They pose as Africans. They flee from the economic crisis in Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela, countries where they had obtained humanitarian asylum. Agencia EL UNIVERSAL/EVZ (GDA via AP Images)

What would you endure to find safety and security? Now that Europe has slammed its doors shut to migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Nigeria, just to name a few countries, many are attempting to enter the United States via a long, arduous journey that includes a treacherous jungle crossing.

At The New Republic, Lauren Markham reports on how, starting from Brazil — a country that offers visas to those from countries where Brazilians are allowed to travel freely — migrants travel north through Peru and Ecuador. In Columbia and Panama they must traverse the perilous Darién Gap, a 2,200-square-mile, road-free tropical forest that connects the two countries. The goal? To reach a Mexican border town from which to slip into the United States, where, if they’re caught, they could be detained for years.

They will have to give me protection,” Henok, an Eritrean man in his thirties, told me as we sipped juice at a café in Tapachula’s central square. “I cannot go back to Eritrea, so I know they will have to protect me in the United States.” It was a matter of human rights, he said.

“I know it won’t be easy,” Henok said, as if reading my mind about his rosy-eyed picture of what awaited him up north. “But in the U.S., I will get my papers, and I will be free.” The passage across oceans and trudging through continents would be worth it, he said. If he could make it through the Darién Gap, he could make it in the United States.

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